David Horovitz writes: …the failed pre-vote diplomatic maneuvering by Netanyahu gives credence to those of his critics who argue that he has entered panic mode. For all the serenity and confidence he exudes in his public appearances, and for all that he is appeasing parts of his right-wing constituency — a critical imperative for retaining power — his tactics on Thursday were a mess, and he now seems to be deepening the damage.
While you might justify calling in the next president to thwart the current president if you’ve thought the high-risk gambit all the way through, you’re going to look worse than foolish if you fail to do your homework and wind up losing.
And that’s exactly what happened. Trump answered Netanyahu’s call, reached out to Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and the resolution was withdrawn. A Pyrrhic victory. Within hours, Senegal, Venezuela, Malaysia and New Zealand had stepped in to advance the very same resolution, and there was nothing that even the president-elect could do about that. So Trump wasted his pre-presidential capital, Sissi was humiliated, and Israel lost the vote.
The big loss yesterday for Israel in the United Nations will make it much harder to negotiate peace.Too bad, but we will get it done anyway!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2016
Netanyahu, and those advising him, might be sensibly dismayed by Trump’s dispassionate response to the setback. Initially, at least, there was no fervent defense of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, no pledge to reverse the pernicious decree, just a mild, rather ho-hum tweet on Saturday, that the “big loss yesterday for Israel in the United Nations will make it much harder to negotiate peace. Too bad, but we will get it done anyway!”
More urgently, though, the prime minister should be considering whether a similar inadequately calculated process is now playing out again. Those who seek to harm Israel will themselves be harmed, he has been warning. This is “the swan song of the old world, that is anti-Israel,” he declared on Saturday night. Soon Trump will be president, and the Israel-bashers will have hell to pay.
But there are two major flaws in that argument. Trump is not yet president. And not everybody who voted for that UNSC resolution loathes Israel.
Yet Netanyahu has taken them all on. With a lack of courtesy he would rightly castigate if the tables were turned, he summoned the ambassadors of the 12 yes-voting countries with which Israel has diplomatic relations for a dressing-down on Christmas Day. Imagine the outrage were a host country to call in the Israeli envoy on, say, Rosh Hashanah.
He ordered his ministers to minimize their dealings with these 12 countries. He canceled, or chose not to schedule, a meeting — depending on whose account you believe — with Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May at the World Economic Forum in Davos next month. Theresa May, who last week enthused about “remarkable” Israel at a Conservative Friends of Israel lunch, in a speech overflowing with admiration and empathy for the Jewish state. Likewise, he chose not to arrange a meeting with Xi Jinping, the president of China, a country with which Netanyahu has striven for years to bolster relations. He summoned home his ambassadors from Senegal and New Zealand. He cancelled a visit to Israel this week by the prime minister of Ukraine, who just so happens to be Jewish.
“They are spitting at us,” he was reported on Sunday to have been telling colleagues. “We will respond with power.” But we are one, small Israel, and it is our interest to widen support for our cause among the nations, to engage, to dialogue, to explain. We rightly condemn boycotts. Now Netanyahu is instituting them.
For all his fury at the perfidy of the international community, his sense of grievance and injustice, the question he must be asked is whether this is going to work. The Obama administration still has more than three weeks left in office. Kerry has said he will soon make a speech setting out his Middle East vision. On January 15, France is convening a summit on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Netanyahu now reportedly fears that the scheming US administration, in coordination with the other Middle East Quartet members — Russia, the EU and the reviled UN — will utilize that gathering to draw up a second UN Security Council resolution to enshrine the parameters of a Palestinian state.
To again quote Kerry at the Saban Forum, “we have always stood against any imposition of a, quote, ‘final status solution.’” But in the current frenetic atmosphere, Netanyahu — rightly or wrongly — sees danger. Casting around for leverage, on Saturday night he warned that Israel’s friends in Congress would draw up legislation to punish states and organizations, such as the UN, that seek to harm Israel. “We won’t let anybody hurt the State of Israel,” he vowed.
But the inconvenient truth is that while 14 nations supported Resolution 2334, and the US chose not to oppose it, those 14 are not all enemies of Israel, far from it, and the United States certainly isn’t. The Czech Republic and Panama might, just might, have voted no, or abstained, but basically the entire world rejects the legality of the settlement enterprise. And much of that world, as Netanyahu has in the recent past enthusiastically highlighted, either broadly supports Israel or is moving in that direction. [Continue reading…]